In this Podcast we talk about rudeness and objectivity in the debate over Calvinism along with whether the gospel = calvinism: LISTEN HERE
If someone walked up to a perfect stranger and said, “Before creation, God decided that most of humanity will certainly burn for eternity for something they have absolutely no control over. God has selected to certainly save a relative few, but most have been destined to torment without hope of any recourse or response.” Do you honestly think any rational person first hearing this news would call it “good?”
Even if this person were to find out that they are among the relative few who are saved from this unthinkable torment, they still are likely to intimately know of others who are not. How can such a thought sit well with anyone? How could they ever, by any standard, deem this news to be good? And, more significantly, is it the message of Christ? It this the “NEWS” that He and his followers deemed to be so “GOOD?”
The “good news”(gospel) is the message that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Cor. 5:19)
Well, that sounds better! God is not counting sin against the world! Though we all deserve eternal separation due to our sin, God is mercifully NOT COUNTING SIN AGAINST US! This is sounding much better than that so called “good news” above, don’t you think? What else does Paul tell us about the true “gospel?”
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:20-21)
So, the “goodness” of this “news” is that God is appealing for ALL PEOPLE in this world to be reconciled, because He sincerely desires that we might all be become righteous through faith in Christ! There is HOPE for all people everywhere!
There is something truly GOOD about that NEWS!
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
“Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (Ezk. 18:30-31)
“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn. 20:31)
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:30-34)
DISCLAIMER: I realize that some Calvinistic believers do not call “Calvinism” the “gospel” (good news), but for those who do this article is to show that the unique claim of Calvinism (that God has predestined to effectually save a relative few and leave most of humanity without any hope whatsoever) is not “good” by any rational standard. It is not even good for those it benefits given they too likely know of many destined to eternal torment without any hope. So, while you may believe it is true, there is no reason to suggest this unique part of your belief system is itself the “good news” that the scriptures reference as the “appeal to be reconciled” sent to “every man.” There is a good reason many, from even among the ranks of Calvinism, who believe this discussion is “back room talk” and not for public consumption, whereas the GOSPEL is for all to hear and discuss openly. There is good reason there are many referred to as “closet calvinists” who realize the lack of “goodness” in the unique part of their difficult to swallow systematic.
Even John Calvin himself declared, “The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny…” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxiii.7)
ADDED: Dr. Brian Wagner sent me this quote from Dr. Laurence M. Vance’s excellent work entitled, “The Other Side of Calvinism.” “The controversy over Calvinism among the Baptists calls for special attention. Not only has this debate raged among the Baptists for hundreds of years, the greatest exponents of Calvinism today are not the Presbyterian or Reformed but the Baptists. The fact that a Baptist says he is not a Calvinist means nothing, for the Baptists, more than any other Calvinists, when seeking to draw attention away from the name of Calvin, use the phrase “Doctrines of Grace” as a metaphor for Calvinism.105 Another term used by Baptists is “Sovereign Grace.”106 The term “grace” by itself is also used to stand for the doctrines of Calvinism.107 One Calvinistic Baptist even wrote a book calledGrace Not Calvinism.108 But just as was pointed out previously, if Calvinism is the doctrine of grace found in the Bible then this implies that if you disagree with Calvinism then you are denying salvation by grace.” <link>
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